Like most bloggers, you probably want to make some money from your blog. Chances are good you’ve tried things like writing product reviews or putting banners or links to affiliate products into your sidebar.
But while many bloggers have mastered the “Art of Blogging” (or at least the basic principles) successfully, earning money from your blog doesn’t seem to be that easy. So what could be better for you than to use your blogging experiences and skills to improve the results of your affiliate promotions?
In this post, I’ll show you how you can re-purpose three of the most successful blogging strategies to get more out of your affiliate promotions. As a nice extra, these tactics will also have a positive effect on your blog. But more importantly, you’ll learn how you can merge them into a combined and even more powerful strategy for your affiliate promotions.
While some of what I write may seem simple or self-evident to the more experienced affiliate bloggers, it’s this way of tying it all together into one strategy that will make the affiliate promotions on your blog really stand out.
Let’s look at the three important blogging strategies on their own first.
Write (and promote) for your audience
You know that well enough—if you want your stuff to be read, it has to match your audience’s interests. The same is true for your affiliate promotions, in particular for the products you choose to promote: they have to be relevant for your audience.
This sounds self-evident, but frankly I’m stumped at the number of bloggers who have an affiliate banner for a hosting company on their blog—even though their audience clearly isn’t thinking about computers or internet when visiting their blog.
So instead of promoting your hosting company on your garden blog, why not try it with an affiliate link for garden tools, or link to an ebook about gardening?
Publish (and promote) quality
You know the game… Quality content attracts real readers which are interested in the topic. An excited and engaged audience. (Just look around here on ProBlogger if you don’t believe me.) It also makes people stay on your site longer, come back for more, engage with you and others, and recommend you to friends.
Just the things you want for your blog.
The same holds true for any products you promote: choose quality. Again, this seems to be self-evident. But take a look around at some blogs and see what they promote. (Or take a close look at your own blog, just for good measure.)
A lot of times, I see just the same banners or “product reviews” for the same old products. It seems that a lot of affiliate bloggers don’t bother to pick a product by its quality. Nor do they care about the “quality” of the vendor, i.e. about his integrity, and about how much he cares about his customers.
In the long run, your readers will notice the difference. And they will trust your recommendations just because they know you watch out for them.
Even the quality of the affiliate program should matter to you as affiliate. After all, you can and should expect a fair treatment for your efforts. Affiliate promotions are a business deal between the vendor and you, the affiliate. If a vendor doesn’t care about the success of his affiliates, why should you bother to promote his products?
So, again, be picky. Choose the right kind of products to promote.
Establish expertise—not only for yourself
This powerful blogging strategy has several facets which can all play together:
- You can establish yourself as expert on your own blog by posting the right kind of content.
- You can establish yourself as expert to a wider audience by guest posting on other blogs.
- You can establish other people as experts on your blog by publishing their guest posts.
- And you can establish yourself as a “meta expert”, as the go-to guy/girl of the experts in your field, by publishing a selection of guest posts by recognized experts in your field and/or by interacting with them on your blog, e.g. through interviews.
Again, you can make use of the same strategy in your affiliate marketing. If you want your readers to buy the products you’ve selected for them, they need to do two things: trust your judgement, and trust the vendor to deliver quality. A big step towards the first is if your readers see you as the expert. That will make them much more likely to trust your recommendations.
But don’t forget about the second part, about trusting the vendor. Before somebody buys from a vendor you recommend, they have to be reasonably sure that this person will be honest, and that (s)he will deliver quality.
To some extent, you can establish that trust towards the vendor with your recommendation: if readers see you as trust-worthy, your recommendation carries some weight, too.
But you should also consider establishing expert status for the product creator on your blog. Then when a reader clicks on your affiliate link, he will already be prepared to trust the vendor whom he sees as expert.
Tie these strategies together for even more power
Just by using these three strategies, you can improve the results from your affiliate efforts a lot. But there’s a very simple, though rarely used way to combine these strategies into something even more powerful:
Publish guest posts by product vendors on your blog, and include your affiliate link in the byline.
Now, just to be clear about it: I’m not talking about promotional content or “product reviews”. I’m talking about guest articles with real, quality content. And about establishing the vendor as the expert (unlike a product review, where you are the “expert” who reviews). And, of course, about picking and promoting the right kind of products in the first place.
To fully understand the power of this strategy, put yourself in the shoes of your readers for a moment:
They come to your blog. They know you publish good stuff, and you’re an expert in the field—you’ve done your best to establish that status. On your blog, they read a guest article by another expert. It contains great content, is helpful, informative, and entertaining.
They like the style and want to read more of the same.
Do you think they’re likely to click on the link (your affiliate link) in the byline? And do you think they might be willing to spend money on a product by this expert?
To achieve this, you only need to re-purpose and tie together the three simple strategies you’re already following when you blog: write for your audience, publish quality, and establish expertise. Do this by choosing the right products, and then publishing informative guest posts by product vendors with your affiliate link included.
In return, you get more out of your affiliate promotions for everybody involved:
- Your readers get to read great content.
- You recommend a good product which will improve your readers’ lives in some way.
- You make it easier for your audience to trust your recommendation, to buy the product and thus to improve their life.
- The vendor has a chance to make more sales and get happy customers.
- And you? You benefit from fresh quality content. You have a chance to enhance your reputation even further. And of course there’s the thing with the affiliate commissions…
In short, it’s a win-win-win. What I like most about this strategy is its simplicity. Despite being a really powerful strategy, it’s also about as simple and easy as it gets.
To show you just how easy it can be, I’ll give you the outline again in eight simple action steps. Why don’t you just give it a try and actually do the steps while you read along?
1. Choose a few good products to promote
By “good”, I mean quality products from trustworthy vendors with a quality affiliate program. And of course products which fit the interests and needs of your audience.
2. Sign up for the affiliate programs of the vendors
Make sure you read the terms of the affiliate programs, and are happy with them.
3. Check the existing promotional material
If the vendor offers promotional material for his affiliates, browse through it to check if there are any suitable articles you could use.
Don’t be disappointed if there aren’t any, though—usually vendors provide what is most asked-for by affiliates, and most affiliates don’t use this strategy… (bad for them, good for you!).
If you find ready-made articles by the vendor anywhere, make sure you’re allowed to enter your affiliate link. If in doubt, ask. If no suitable articles are readily available, go to step 4.
4. Get in touch with the vendors
Introduce yourself, and give them the URL of your blog. Be professional: you’re contacting a potential business partner.
Ask for suitable articles, and explain what you want to do with them (establish the vendor as expert on your blog, give your audience good content, and generate sales for both of you). It should be clear that you’re not looking for purely promotional material, but for actual content.
Make sure it’s absolutely clear that you will use your affiliate link in the resource box and/or the article content—you don’t want to risk any misunderstandings about this.
To increase your chances of getting suitable material, you can also point out that the articles could have been published elsewhere before. Most vendors, especially the more established and successful ones, won’t provide each affiliate with a different set of “unique” articles.
I’m not going into the depths of the “unique content” discussion here, but since this is not primarily an SEO strategy, it may not matter for you whether the guest articles on your blog have been published in other places, too. The quality of the articles is much more important! The internet is a huge place, and chances are very high your readers haven’t seen them before.
5. Read between the lines
Not every vendor will send you suitable articles. But regardless of that, their replies might tell you a lot about how they do business, and how they treat their customers and affiliates. Even if somebody can’t provide you with articles, he/she might be a great guy or girl, and there might be options for other business ventures in the future.
Just be open for ideas.
6. Check the material you get
Seriously. You want to feature the vendor as expert. So to make this strategy work, you have to stick to your standards. Make sure you only publish articles which:
- are a good fit for your audience and topic
- contain real content, are entertaining, informative, or helpful
- aren’t promotional
- meet your quality standards
A good test is to ask yourself if this article would be worth publishing without your affiliate link. If an article doesn’t match your requirements, don’t use it.
7. Insert your affiliate link
Insert your affiliate link for the vendor in the places you two agreed upon. Then double-check the link, just in case.
To add even more leverage, don’t just publish the article on your blog. We’re talking about serious, quality content here—about guest articles you could and should be proud to anounce to your audience and to the world.
Use social media to point people to the article. Link to it in your newsletter, or publish it in your ezine. Add it to an autoresponder sequence for your mailing list, so that any future subscribers can read it, too. Or link to it from your “thanks for opting in” page.
After all, if you’ve chosen the right kind of guest article, your audience will love you for the pointer to the post! Once you’re done with all the steps, go back to step 1 and start over.
The biggest enemy of success…
We’ve all been there: you read about a great new strategy that would move you forward quite a bit. You’re very excited about the idea, and make plans to implement it as soon as possible. Only “asap” usually turns out to be tomorrow. Then next week. Then next month. And then never.
Sound familiar? Why don’t you do it a bit different this time? I’ve given you eight action steps above. Take a piece of paper or open a file right now and start a list of suitable products and affiliate programs. If you’re already signed up for such affiliate programs, go straight to step 3. Check the available content for suitable pieces. And if you can’t find any, don’t pass go, proceed with step 4 and send a note to the vendor(s). Right now.
Worst case is you’ll spend the next hour getting in touch with potential business partners—not the worst thing that can happen to you today, is it?
Editor’s note: tomorrow, our final posts in this series look at blogging smarter (and more profitably) with WordPress.
Regine Becher is an affiliate manager and JV broker. To help affiliates and bloggers get more out of their affiliate promotions, Regine runs a service called Syndicated Partners, where affiliates can download quality articles and publish them with their affiliate link inside.